After having faced alleged cyber attacks on her presence online, UCP leadership hopeful Leela Aheer linked the attacks to white supremacists and racists, and mentioned multiple times at the news conference how she has "outlined her principles" over the past few weeks.
"To whomever perpetrated this attack on myself and my family, you will not win. I will not back down," Aheer said while holding back tears.
"I will never tolerate bigotry in a government that I lead, and I believe that these attacks on my account were driven by people who want to silence my voice and derail our campaign," she said.
Last Friday, the MLA spoke out against an upcoming UCP leadership debate co-hosted by a pro-independence group, the Alberta Prosperity Project (APP), and Rebel News, a right-wing media group.
"White supremacy, homophobia & racism have been supported & encouraged for too long in politics," she stated on Twitter.
"Anyone participating in the Prosperity Project / Rebel Media Debate, should be held accountable for supporting this toxic culture."
Leadership candidates Jean, Todd Loewen and Smith are still attending Friday's debate. But former ministers Travis Toews and Rebecca Schulz backed out of the event late last week.
In response to Aheer's tweets criticizing the debate, APP issued a release Tuesday stating that the MLA's "misguided defamatory comments" about the group have insulted its "multi-ethnic members."
"Aheer owes an apology to those Albertans who value their individual freedoms, rights and prosperity, but I question whether she has the class do so," APP CEO Dennis Modry said in the release.
TCT's own Rob Boutilier posted the following on Facebook:
"UCP leadership candidate implies anyone who participated in Rebel Media/Alberta Prosperity Project debates is white supremacist, homophobic and racist. One would have to assume that this extends to anyone who simply supports either organization as well.
What a way to reach out to voters amirite?"